It's 11:40pm and I'm very tired, but I feel compelled to write this post, as I have had this thought for the past several days. I know that if I don't take the time to flesh out whatever seed of an idea is in my head, I'm missing out on the opportunity for God to bless me with whatever He wants to show me through that idea. Without a thoughtful response, the idea will fade and I will have forgotten about it a week or so afterwards.
"It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
Is that true? Maybe, maybe not. I would like to hope that it is, but I don't know what it's like to have lost someone that I loved so deeply to the point where I might question if it was worth it. A particularly good friend of mine passed away when she was just 20 years old more than three years ago. When I saw the pain that her mother suffered through, I wondered if she ever, even just for a moment, wished that her daughter had never lived so that she could be spared from the pain of having lost her.
But what I never thought of until now was that with this statement, there is an assumption: that loving someone was worth it because the person who loved received something in return.
It is a romantic notion, that one is better off now than before because they loved. You experience, you grow, you learn. But what about the other person? The one that was lost? I don't think the quote necessarily means the second person died. Maybe they left the relationship, or maybe it was a mutual agreement between both people that it was time to part ways. But the point I'm trying to make is that people who are willing to accept this quote probably do so with the premise that the person who loved has gained some benefit.
So I present to you an alternative statement: "It is better to love."
The first question that comes to my mind is, "Better for who?"
Taking a different track here, let me share what it means for me to love someone.
It means that I am opening myself up. Not just to have tender and caring emotions for someone, and not just to enjoy their company and presence.
Love for me means that I am opening myself up to pain and rejection. The love that I want to have for others is like that of Christ. He loved. And what did He get for it? Pain, rejection, and hell. Yes, He rose again. Yes, He conquered death and is seated at the right hand of God. Yes, He has been glorified and is now exalted as King. But He would have gotten that anyway. If He is King no matter what happens, ever, He doesn't need us, and He doesn't need to love.
But He chose to love anyway. If it is better to love, in this case, it was better for ME. Not for Christ.
So as difficult as it is, I ask God to teach me to love as He does. That He will give me a love for others that continues even when it causes me pain and heartache. Not because it's better for me, but because other people can be healed and moved and changed when they are loved unconditionally, as I have been by the perfect and amazing love of Christ. I want the conviction that the potential (and probably eventual) pain and rejection that comes with loving others more than loving myself is worth it. Worth it for someone else. And I would hope that the love they see in me, imperfect as it is, would show them a glimpse of the love of Jesus, which I believe is better than life itself. I am staking my life on that.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.